Christmas Gift Ideas – Build Your Own Christmas Gift Baskets – Ideas To Consider

Think outside the basket! Christmas gift ideas to consider should include building your own baskets of gifts. It is not as difficult as it sounds and it hardly takes any time. Take a look at how easy it is with these Christmas gift baskets ideas.

Choose the basket and contents to design your own Christmas gift baskets. Choose a wooden crate, basket, gift bucket, thermal cooler, toolbox, or more. Then choose the theme color. What’s his or her favorite color? Grass filler will be accented with a coordinating bow and curled ribbon. Then simply add components to reflect the person you are building your gift for.

You can select from a variety of scents in candles, soaps & bath salts. The gift basket can be for the cook with various new utensils, fabric napkins, grill gadgets, or seasoning and spices. For the painter there is everything you would ever need to paint a room including brushes, gloves, drop clothes, and scrapers. Or you can choose a basket filled with all sorts of edible goodies, like candy and chocolate, snack mixes and nuts, or cookies and muffins, and don’t forget adding some coffee and tea. Mix and match any items available and have a plethora of different items which no one would understand the theme except you and the person you are building the gift basket for.

These Christmas gift buckets or baskets can be totally built on your ideas from the container to the contents. The size of the basket will be determined based on the number of items you select to ensure the finished product doesn’t look too cramped or too spare. Each basket is individually assembled and guaranteed to look just right! You know the people that you are looking for Christmas gift ideas for, by building your own gift baskets for everyone on your list there will be nothing more unique under the Christmas tree. Build your own basket for everyone on your list and they will each be unique and custom to the person you are building it for.

There is no better way to celebrate Christmas than with gift ideas that truly speak to the person you are giving the gift to. If you have a do-it-yourselfer on your list, then start with a tool kit. Anyone can use a new thermal cooler. Just remember that the basket will look just perfect based on the number of items you select. Obviously some items are larger than others, that’s okay because the size of the “basket” will be determined by the quantity and size of the items.

Christmas baskets are one of the most popular gifts given at Christmas. This year take it a step further and select everything that goes into the basket as well as the “basket” itself.

Food and Grilling Safety

With more and more Americans spending time outdoors, it is no surprise that food safety and grilling are becoming more front-and-center in the news. Recent studies have revealed that if grilling is not done correctly, the food you grill and serve to your family could contain toxins, which can be dangerous to health.

Incorrect culinary preparation, particularly during barbecuing, could advance intake of toxins linked to many health problems such as heart and kidney disease, diabetes, vascular, and Alzheimer’s diseases. In fact, a recent study performed at Mount Sinai School of Medicine showed that levels of AGEs, a toxin called advanced glycation end products, are drawn into the blood stream by eating large quantities of food that is cooked by grilling, frying or broiling at temperatures that are considered too high. In otherwise healthy people, higher levels of AGEs were documented and linked to the consumption of foods prepared improperly.

What Causes Toxins in Food?

The study revealed that food preparation as well as the temperature by which the food is cooked has a direct correlation to the level of AGE toxins in food. In addition to the preparation methods of food, the study showed a significant relationship between the amount of AGEs in the diet and the level of AGEs in one’s blood. The amount of sugar, fat or calories consumed did not affect the AGE levels in the bloodstream as did the specific quantities of foods consumed which contain dangerous AGEs.

Along with the host of health problems listed, inflammation and stress have been documented to be related to high levels of AGEs in the bloodstream. Inflammation and stress are more prevalent in older individuals, therefore the purpose of the study was to determine whether AGEs played a considerable role in age-associated inflammation and stress by charting the AGE blood levels in young as well as elderly individuals.

The consequences of the study found that AGE levels could be extremely high in both the young participants of the study as well as the elderly participants. Indeed, high documented levels of AGE levels were found in some healthy adults in this research, which were on target with the AGE levels recognized in diabetic patients. The truth that hearty adults had levels resembling those seen in diabetic patients may insinuate that early and lasting exposure to AGE toxins in the diet could expedite the brunt of these diseases.

The presence of AGEs in food are very disingenuous because they give food an appealing smell and taste, according to Helen Vlassara, MD, Professor of Medicine and Geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and senior study author, Director of the Division of Experimental Diabetes and Aging. Dr. Vlassara refereed to the availability and intake of food with high levels of AGE with increasing documented cases of diabetes and heart disease.

How to Minimize AGE Intake When Cooking, Grilling and Eating

New barbecue grills on the market today should include a combination of ways to decrease the cooking duration and temperature, while at the same time increasing water retention.

Recommendations to reduce AGE levels in food include selecting lean foods like fish chicken or vegetables, instead of fatty meats like hamburgers or beef steaks.

Susan Goodman, a dietitian at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, recommends cooking fish, seafood or vegetables in aluminum pouches that are sealed. She says by preparing food in this manner the food is steamed, even if cooked on the grill. Foods which are excellent candidates for grilling in an aluminum pouch include vegetables such as potatoes and fresh fish with herbs which can be incorporated in the pouches for a healthy and tasty meal.

More recommendations from professionals who have studied the effects of grilling safety concur this. Tara Miller, Registered Dietitian and Program Manager for the Center for Corporate Wellness at NYU Medical Center recommends that grills be kept clean. It is imperative grills are cleaned prior to cooking because a charred grill increases food’s acclamation to dangerous toxins. Instead of marinating food with a bottled marinate or home-made rub, it is recommended that barbecue fans use vinegar, lime or lemon juice on the food prior to cooking. These items cause the food to cook faster, which in-turn allows the chef to reduce the temperature on the grill. Also, Miller makes it clear that acids from items such as vinegar, lime or lemon juice dwarf the transfer process of toxic AGEs into food.

Shopping Tips for Food Safety

Foods like meat and poultry should be added to the shopping cart immediately before checkout. This way, they have a higher tendency to remain cold. And be sure to sort raw meat and poultry separately so that they do not contaminate the other food in the shopping cart. To protect against cross-contamination which can occur when poultry and raw meat juices splash or leak on other foods, it is best to put the poultry and raw meat into plastic bags. For those that are worried about the effects of plastic bags on the environment, plastic bins with a tightly-sealed top can be brought from home to the store. The bins should be washed out with hot water and soap after removal of the meat so that the bins are safe to use again to the next grocery-store shopping excursion.

Thawing Meat

By completely thawing the meat and poultry prior to cooking, the food cooks more evenly which as an added benefit, cooks more quickly. Again, the goal is to lower the temperature on the grill so as to reduce introduction of AGE toxins. The best way to thaw meat is in the refrigerator so that the food is thawed slowly and safely. Another safe thawing alternative is to thaw food in sealed packages within cold water. If in a pinch, a microwave on defrost setting can be used to safely thaw meat as long as it is immediately cooked after thawing.

Skip the Grill

Grilling is a luxury, such as eating ice cream and cake. We are not recommending that you should skip grilling altogether, but grilling safety should be taken into consideration when planning the weekly menu. Health alternatives to grilling include boiling, steaming or stewing food.

A safe alternative to grilling is smoking food. In a professional food smoker, the cooking process is slow so that less tender meats benefit and the natural smoke flavor penetrates the food. The temperature of the smoker can be kept within a safe range of 250 to 300 degrees F.


Some studies indicate there may be a cancer risk associated with consuming foods that are prepared using very high-heat such as grilling, frying or broiling. However, based on recent studies, it has been found that eating moderate amount of foods such as fish, lean meat and poultry cooked at a safe temperature, without chairing, does not cause a risk.

Consult a Professional about Grilling Safety

If you have concerns about grilling safety and food safety, it is recommended that you consult a license dietitian or health care provider.

Open Your Own Fashion Boutique

Imagine how it would feel if a store existed that catered to your exact taste in fashion design. If fashion is your passion, and you feel like you might have a knack for retail, then you should consider starting up your very own fashion boutique! In today’s economy, starting your own business seems like a major challenge, but if you establish yourself well enough, you could have a steady stream of customers in no time…Especially if you have impeccable taste in fashion. Thanks to experts in fashion merchandising, we have created a boutique start-up checklist, that will lead you to achieving your retail fashion dreams!

1. Before you start, you should take the time to form a detailed business plan. If you want this to go right, you need to create a budget for every possible expense. This includes merchandise, advertising and promotions, supplies, real estate expenses, a business license, insurance and so on. All of it together can be extremely overwhelming, but a well-researched, sensible budget and business plan will greatly ease the pressure.

2. Once the less interesting logistics are taken care of, you should focus on buying the right merchandise for your store. Make sure your selection is tasteful and thorough. Don’t pick random odds and ends and sell them together unless you are really trying to create a thrifty, treasure chest feel. Carefully and thoughtfully select brands of merchandise you want to sell in your store. Once you have compiled a list of brands, you must contact a sales representative for that brand, in order to do your buying through them.

3. After a budget, a lease on a store-space and merchandise purchasing, it’s time to organize your store. If you have enough money in the budget, you might want to hire an interior designer to help organize your boutique’s layout, and a graphic designer to create a logo for the store windows. The way your store looks will be crucial to its success. It needs to emphasize the clothes, but still have its own interior personality. It needs to seem full of merchandise, yet not too busy or crowded. It should be trendy, but not overly hip, and all of these things are hard to achieve at once.

4. Once the store is up and running, it’s time to design your boutique’s website. In this day and age, a lot of people like to order merchandise online, or look through a store’s selection on the web before they decide to go in. If you design an impressive website, your store’s online buyer community will help to support your business costs.

In today’s economy, it is certainly tough to get a small business off the ground. However, if you start a good one, it is highly probable that your business will flourish, from being tasteful, well-organized and providing a service or a treat that people will continually come looking for. If you’re tired of your current career, and think you have a future in fashion design or fashion merchandising, than you should start drafting your OWN plans for the retail boutique of your dreams!

Going Green With Vintage and Used Designer Clothes

Are you still trying to find the “look” for you? Are you trying to find a way to look good and express your individuality at the same time? Or is it just too costly to do so? Here are some answers to all of these questions:

The “Back in Time” Look

People have tried many different tactics to find what suits their style. Some have tried to look like they just stepped out of Hollywood. Others try to pull off the “I just rolled out of bed” look; but if you are looking for something that isn’t too hard to keep up yet still stylish and appropriate for everyday life then you should think vintage clothing.

Vintage clothes take the simple beauty of nature and old styles and put them together. Vintage and retro clothing are based on styles of previous eras. A mainstream theme of vintage clothing is prints, specifically floral and animal prints. Accessories also use animals, flowers, and gemstones as their basis of design.

Many people today are concerned about “going green”. Wearing vintage clothing is one way to do this. The act of buying vintage items means you are recycling them. Some people are concerned with the fact that reused clothing means that it is less durable. This is actually false, in older times clothes were made to be more durable, which means vintage clothes will last longer and look prettier over time because they were designed to be wearable. Even if it is not your favorite style it’s trendy, it’s fun, and it’s easy to pull off on a daily basis.

Not for you?

Some people like to stick to their comfort zone, and for many Americans that is designer clothing. A large amount of people want modern or contemporary looks, but cannot afford it. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word say used? Most people would say old or dirty. However, used clothing isn’t like that, if you know where to look. Used designer clothes are very popular today. People can get the fashions they want for the prices that they can afford.

Some can’t stand the thought of stepping foot into a thrift store. Some feel that they are above thrift shopping. The common misconception is that they are messy and hard to find what you are looking for. Luckily, nowadays you don’t have to. Online thrift stores are becoming more and more popular today.

Online shopping is beneficial because most of the time you can go straight to what you are looking for instead or going though racks and racks of unsorted clothing. Another advantage of online thrift stores is that you can find more items than you expected. If you go designer clothe shopping in a mall you have to go into every store to view the different brands. With thrift shopping you can find all different brands in one place. Not to mention, you would spend half as much as you would buying designer clothes in a mall.